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What sort of camping will you be doing?
  1. Choosing a Camping Tent | Outdoor Adventure Store
  3. Ultimate Family Camping Checklist: 29 Items You Need to Bring

These tents are divided into two or three separate living areas, and they are perfect if you want to keep girls in one room and boys in another, or parents in one room and kids in another. Tip Before heading out on your first camping trip with a child, let them take naps or spend the night in your tent at home. The claustrophobic environment takes some getting used to, and its best for both you and the child to accustom yourselves to a tent at home rather than the outdoors where it is darker and you might bother other campers.

Another thing to consider when deciding on the size of your tent is whether or not you plan on storing any gear inside the tent. If you want to keep the cooler and other items in the tent, then get a tent that's rated for 1 or 2 more people higher than you normally would. Some tents even have a separate "dining room". This is usually a screened-in area for eating and lounging. Tents are rated for people sleeping.


If you want to have your clothing duffel etc. The most important thing to look for in a camping tent is roominess.

Choosing a Camping Tent | Outdoor Adventure Store

Are you tall? Is there enough room to stretch out to your full length when you are in your sleeping bag? What about headroom? Do you have enough room to sit up comfortably? Do you intend to spend a lot of time in your tent? Decide how much room is important to you before purchasing a tent. Tent manufacturers tend to overestimate the number of people their tents can accommodate. If a tent claims it holds one to two people, it usually means exactly that holds one to two people and with little room for much else.

Two people will be a tight fit without their gear, and one person will fit with plenty of room for clothes, food, etc. Keep that in mind when considering how much you want your tent to hold. Cabin tents are big with high ceilings and large windows. Multi-room models are available. Dome tents are smaller, stable and better in varying weather conditions.

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They are easy to setup and take down. When you are making your tent wish list, remember that you will be responsible for how the tent reaches the campground, be it a primitive site in a state forest or a fully-equipped site at the nearest KOA. For backpackers, the most important feature of a tent is its weight. Car campers, on the other hand, are more interested in roominess and comfort.

Even so, carrying more tent than the camping trip calls for can be almost as much of a mistake as not having an adequate tent. Some of the larger family tents weigh in excess of 30 pounds. Don't purchase a huge, bulky, heavy tent if your time in the tent is limited to the eight hours you will be sleeping in it.

However, if you head out on a camping trip in a heavy duty vehicle intending to set up a base camp for several days or more, the larger tents may be worth the bulk as well as the price. Many campers like us set up in state parks, particularly those on lakes or the ocean, and live in the campground for a week or more. This is another important feature to look for when shopping for a tent. On hot, buggy nights there is nothing worse than being stifled in a poorly ventilated tent.

Well ventilated tents also have fewer problems with condensation build-up inside the tent than tents sealed up tight. If you are planning only cold weather camping, this feature won't be necessary. Do you think you'll take your tent primarily on backpacking, rafting, sea kayaking, or car camping trips? Or do you enjoy heading up into the mountains where you'll be exposed to the elements: snow, wind, rain, hail, sleet, and all those fun experience-builders? Most tents can be classified as three-season. In other words, their construction makes them comfortable from spring through fall.

There are also tents that are almost entirely no-see-um netting for ultimate ventilation and which are perfect for camping in the summer, particularly in the South and Southwest. On the other hand, if you intend to hike in every season, a good rain fly will compensate in cold weather for the extra ventilation needed in hot weather.

Three-season tents have more mesh, lighter poles and fabrics, and aren't as heavy-duty. Tents built for four-season use usually have very little ventilation and sometimes feature a cook hole in the floor so that you can cook inside your tent. Four-season tents theoretically keep you warm or cool, whichever the case may be, year-round. Four-season tents usually have stronger poles , heavier fabrics, less mesh, and remain sturdy in the wind and snow.

They also have a little more room for gear and cooking. Basically, the more weather and snow you camp out in, the stronger your tent needs to be. Tent Fabric. Most tents are made of strong but lightweight nylon taffeta or rip stop nylon, which weighs approximately 2 ounces per square yard. Some of the bigger tents use coated polyester or cotton poplin canvas, which weighs a good deal more. The floors and flys are usually coated with polyurethane or another moisture-repellent substance to prevent moisture from passing from the ground into the tent.

Although the body of a tent is often left untreated to increase the transfer of respiration and perspiration through the tent's walls, it is not unusual to wake up in a damp tent. Moisture can gather beneath sleeping pads or air mattresses but not cots since they are raised above the floor. Large and airy tents have less of a problem this way because of the greater circulation of air throughout the tent.

Some tents offer a double-roof construction, which further decreases unwanted condensation. I have spent a number of sleepless nights in tents that dripped continually from the ceiling. Tent Poles. In the past few years, tent poles have evolved from unyielding aluminum to shock-corded poles of fiberglass or aluminum except in the case of some of the larger, family tents, which still use rigid aluminum poles.

These new poles are threaded in segments over elastic shock cord that allows the user merely to snap the poles into shape rather than piece them together. This keeps the pole together so you don't have to hunt for pieces. As the poles sections slip together the cord holds them together so they can be handled as a single pole. Never shake out your shock-corded poles to snap them together.

The violent action causes nicks to form at the joints that will tear your tent pole sleeves. When dismantling the tent, the segments are pulled apart and folded compactly.

There is still some controversy as to whether fiberglass is superior to aluminum when it comes to designing tent poles. Fiberglass is less expensive and more flexible than aluminum. It does not require pre-bending or any special attachments.


It also provides a better packing size when folded. Its major drawbacks are that it is affected by weather and can break into splinters and must be replaced. Aluminum is more likely to bend and can be splinted when it breaks. Durability is one of aluminum's main advantages along with the fact that it is easily replaced. Aluminum poles are the standard for high-end tents. Don't loose them. Thick poles come with mountaineering and 4 season tents.

Ultimate Family Camping Checklist: 29 Items You Need to Bring

Save the weight and get thinner poles if you will not be camping in heavy winds and snow. They are light, flexible and can withstand the cold. The quality of aluminum poles vary, but most poles are aircraft grade aluminum which are lighter and less bulky while providing increased strength. Diameters range from 6 mm to 15 mm.

The larger diameter is heavier, stronger and less flexible, thus more stable under high winds. Most backpacking tents use 8. As a general rule if your tent has only one pole intersection, your poles should be 9. If your tent is higher than 5 feet tall, you need a pole diameter of at least Some companies color code their aluminum poles to make the tent easier to set up. Avoid fiberglass poles unless car camping. These poles are heavy and fragile although inexpensive. Fiberglass poles are heavier than aluminum poles and are not as durable.

When temperatures fall below freezing, fiberglass poles start to crack. Fiberglass poles are usually used to cut costs. Fiberglass comes in varying qualities, the cheap versions tend to splinter rather easily. Fiberglass poles also have metal sleeves at their ends, these tend to get caught in pole sleeves and make setting up the tent rather frustrating.

Camping Checklist -- REI